REST bilingual trainers mean more Spanish-speaking caregivers can receive a break

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bilingualREST (Respite Education and Support Tools) held its first bilingual training last month at El Valor, a social service agency that reaches about 4,000 families in Chicago, most of which are Hispanic.

REST training will especially benefit El Valor’s respite program and home-based services for people with developmental disabilities, said Yesenia Ariza, home based service facilitator.

At its children and family centers in the Little Village, Pilsen and South Chicago neighborhoods, El Valor works with more than 4,000 children under the age of five, 20 percent of whom are diagnosed with a developmental or physical disability.

In addition, El Valor works with more than 1,000 individuals with disabilities and their families, with such services as employment placement programs, residential community housing and developmental training. Services also include respite, with 275 families relying on the program, and 200 more are on the waiting list.

“Some of our personal support workers and respite volunteers do not have a good understanding of what they are to do,” Ariza said. “Most think they are just babysitters. They may not know they could do much more to help the client.”

“Since the state does not require any type of training to become a personal support worker, we thought the REST training would be beneficial,” Yesenia added. “REST will be a useful tool for us.”

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that people of Hispanic origin constitute the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority – or 17 percent of the nation’s total population. As of July 1, 2013, the Hispanic population in the United States was 54 million. By 2060, experts predict that population to grow to 128.8 million.

“Based on trends we have seen, we thought it especially important to create the REST program in Spanish,” said Lois Sheaffer, REST program director. “We are thrilled that more respite volunteers and trainers have materials available in their native language. This means more Spanish-speaking respite volunteers can provide temporary relief – or respite – for caregivers in neighborhoods throughout the country.”

“El Valor offers so many programs that benefit families impacted by disabilities,” Sheaffer added. “As the wait list shows, the need for respite continues. We look forward to seeing REST grow so more caregivers receive the help they need.”

“Clients will have peace of mind, knowing their respite and personal support workers have undergone high-quality training,” Ariza said. “The REST training provides families with confidence that their respite worker will be well prepared.”

REST staff members look forward to continuing to meet the needs of Hispanic communities throughout the United States. For more information on how your organization can host a bilingual training, please contact Lisa Esposito, administrative assistant, at 630-397-5656 or or visit

REST (Respite Education and Support Tools) is a nationally recognized program of Marklund, a nonprofit organization that serves children and adults with serious and profound developmental disabilities and special healthcare needs. Since its launching in February 2013, REST has developed trainers and volunteers in 15 states and in Canada, to date.

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